What’s the best way for a startup to reach-out to a domain name owner?


Without a doubt the number one question I get from other startup founders about domain names is, “I’m trying to buy a domain, what should I say in my email to the owner?” In the best case you’ll email the owner, the name will be for sale, the price will be reasonable and the deal will go smoothly.

In the worst case you’ll get in a big argument with the owner, the price will go through the roof, and you’ll end up naming your company something else, or adding the word “Get” to the front of your domain or “Online” to the end of it.

So how can you make sure you’re living in the “best case” scenario? Here are three ways to frame your email to give you the best chances:

  1. Reach-out and just be honest with the owner. Let them know who you are, what you do and make a clear offer for what you’d be willing to pay for the domain. From what I’ve seen over the years this approach works the best.
  2. Write a short and sweet email not revealing anything about yourself but just saying that you’re interested in the domain and asking them what price they are looking for. This approach works well sometimes but just know that if you don’t make an offer you might not get a response.

And now, how can you totally screw things up? Just do one of these two things:

  1. Email the owner and tell them that you’re a startup, don’t have a big budget, but could pay a few hundred dollars for the domain. This usually just offends the buyer, it’s like me offering you $500 for that BMW you paid $25,000 for.
  2. Write a strongly worded email to the owner telling them that they clearly aren’t doing anything with the domain name and you want to use it for your business. Like the approach above, starting a business deal by offending the person you want to do business with isn’t a winning approach.

Now is the fun part. I’d love to hear from some of my readers about some of the “best” and “worst” emails they’ve received from prospective buyers. Comment and let your voice be heard!

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Eugene Fraxby March 3, 2017, 9:51 pm

    Had one last week that’s on topic to your post.

    Received offer for a 2 word .com for $995. I wouldn’t sell it for that however I do at least think it is a respectful first offer for a 2 word .com compared to the lowballer $50 type offers I usually get.

    So in my reply I thanked him for his respectful offer, but presented him with the example of another 2 word domain that sold in 2013 for $50000 that had the same second word as my domain to back up why I wanted a 5 digit price for my domain. Now I do think the $50000 domain is better than mine so I wouldn’t have expected to get $50000 so I told him my price would be a lot less but still 5 figures, as it’s supposed to be a negotiation isn’t it. There was also another sale in 2014 for $5000 with the same second word as my domain which I’d say was a comparable standard to mine, but obviously I didn’t mention that in my initial response.

    Anyway he refused to get involved in any sort of negotiation and simply repeated his initial question asking me to name a price. A couple more email exchanges where still he didn’t make an increased offer and then he said “sounds like you don’t want to sell your domain then”.

    I would probably have accepted $10000 for the domain and even a $5000 might have tempted me a little. But hey-ho after his initial ‘respectful’ offer he turned out to be a bit of a lowballer in the end.

    • Morgan March 4, 2017, 1:57 pm

      Thanks for sharing @Eugene, great example of how a ridiculously low offer can really send the conversation in the wrong direction.

  • Edward Zeiden March 6, 2017, 10:41 am

    If negotiation or a large domain sale seems like a daunting task to a busy founder, and their budget permits it, hiring a Buyer Broker has its merits. They often provide an added value if you seek to preserve your anonymity during the acquisition process.


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